I Chat To MistaJam About His Sony Nomination, Life At BBC Radio One…And Nando’s

Fresh from being nominated second year running for a Sony Radio Award, BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra DJ MistaJam is about to experience one of his most hectic summers yet.

With the steady gathering of his new Speakerbox brand, which now includes a joint music compilation venture with Ministry of Sound, the music fanatic is going back to his club roots with dates across the UK and Europe and spoke to Skiddle about what we can expect, behind the scenes at BBC’s Radio 1 and proper club etiquette…

So tell us about some of your upcoming live dates. I know Birmingham’s Gibb Street Warehouse is particularly happy to have you on April 27th – what can we expect?

In terms of live gigs I have a ridiculously busy diary this summer. I really do enjoy playing out live – a lot of people will know me as a radio DJ, but I started out as a club DJ. I’m literally hitting the four corners of the UK and a couple of places in Europe, I’m flying out to Snowbombing 2012 in Tirol, Austria and when I come back we’ve got a massive date at Warning! In Cambridge and like you said the Gibb Street Warehouse in Birmingham is going to be pretty amazing.

What can you tell us about your brand Speakerbox? What can we expect from that venture?

Well basically I started Speakerbox about two years ago to be the home of everything that I was doing outside of the BBC. It started off with events and loads of record labels approached me time and time again to try and get me to put together a compilation album but I really wanted to do something that I could control.

So the way that we have done it is we’ve partnered with Ministry of Sound and in terms of the events so far we have got second stages confirmed at a good number of big festivals across the course of the summer such as Creamfields and Wireless. There is also this compilation album which I am putting together and solely responsible for in terms of finding the tracks and mixing the tracks – that’s gonna be good and I’m looking to have that out by next summer.

Then there’s kind of an artist’s side to the whole project that I am not actually gonna be involved with because of the conflicts with the BBC – but I am really excited about it all at the moment.

What does a Sony Radio Award nomination mean to you at the point in your career?

Well that for me is a massive honour, last year it was my first time to be nominated for a Sony Radio Award and I managed to get myself a bronze and a silver so the fact that I have been nominated again – kind of a two years running thing – up against people like Jools Holland for Broadcaster of the year… that’s just… it’s the Oscars of the UK radio world so there is no higher honour for any broadcaster.

For all the budding radio heads out there, I know you advised some directly on your Twitter that the best apprenticeship for radio is to make it yourself, what else would you say to all the beginner DJs?

I would say practice, practice makes perfect, the way that technology works these days is that you can have your own little podcasts, you can put it online yourself, you can try and generate a fan base because practice really does make perfect. If you’re a DJ, practicing your mixes and putting together as much stuff as possible will always help, if you put it out there hopefully it will hit a lot of people. If broadcasting is your thing listen to your favourite radio DJ’s as I always do and try and mimic them (laughs) and then you’ll be able to develop your own style, I think it is about making it and doing it yourself.

What music acts would you put your money on for big things this year?

Ooh… anyone that I am playing on my shows. Purely because I am not playlisted so anything that I do play on air is something that I really truly believe in. There are so many artists and producers out there that are really putting in the work and making great music. I don’t want to do anyone a disservice by not mentioning them so – whatever I play on the radio… I like.

You have a pretty busy summer coming up, where in the world do you get excited about playing when you’re told that you have a date there?

It sounds cheesy but anywhere where there is a crowd. I love playing in the UK, I love travelling abroad and taking what it is I do over here in the UK, abroad to a very knowledgeable audience elsewhere and seeing how they take it. I recently just came back from America and seeing the American crowd enjoying essentially British music… that blew my mind. But I just love playing to crowds. Like I said, even though most people know me as a radio DJ, I started out as a club DJ promoting and putting on my own nights and stuff so I do like to play to small crowds, big crowds…I just enjoy it.

If the walls at Yalding House (BBC Radio 1 HQ) could talk, what would they say if anything?

They would say ‘why do all these DJs moan?’ (Laughs)

I figured you guys would all be very happy up there…

We are but it’s also very political…


Everyone wants to be top dog, so we all really get on but we’re also super competitive…

By competitive you mean you all want to be the best, to get the most listeners, to play the best music?

Exactly… everything (laughs)

Well that’s a good thing right? It’s great for the music…

Of course, it means that the music benefits, because everybody that works at Radio 1 and 1Xtra first and foremost they are a music fan. So it’s great for the music because it means that everybody wants to be the person that’s playing the hottest, the freshest and the newest tunes, everybody wants to say that they broke a record. So if the walls could talk in Yalding House that’s pretty much what they’d say.

Now that we’re here, can you dish any more dirt about your fellow DJs?

Erm, I’m a great believer in karma… (Laughs)

Fair enough. What gems of knowledge can you give us about club etiquette, are there things you see punters do on nights out that are a big no-no?

There are a good few, fashion, and what your wearing is whatever y’know? Whatever makes you comfortable – if the bouncers let you in, then just go for it… just expect sober DJs to start laughing at you.

In terms of big things that you should never do; there are so many different kinds of people who come up to you and say ‘I need you to play this record right now and if you don’t play it I’m gonna go and take all my mates away’ or ‘if you play this record everyone will dance’ and then it clears the dance floor… don’t hassle the DJ, the DJ is there to play the records. The DJ knows what they’re doing, if the DJ doesn’t then they’re in the wrong club. There are loads more…

You also tweeted that when in the US, the Amercians would ask you about chicken conglomerate Nando’s – how do they know about Nando’s?

It was one of the most asked questions when I was out there, it’s ridiculous – Americans know a few things about England, they know about Adele, they know about the Queen and they know about Nando’s.

How would they know about Nando’s?! Maybe Facebook, Twitter stuff like that?

It’s gotta be, it’s gotta be the amount of people from the UK on Facebook and Twitter going ‘Yeah, this chicken is the best!’

And for the record you don’t know Adele?

No, no I don’t, I know a lot of people that know her but she is one of those ones that I have always wanted to meet but have never been able to.

Do you feel vindicated in anyway by the rise of Dubstep, and do you believe it is the music of this generation?

I think it is the music of this generation, because it’s mongrel music; it’s the sum of many, many different parts it’s equal parts Urban as it is Dance. For me, being someone who has been playing it on national radio since 2007 when pretty much the only other person on national radio playing it was Mary Ann Hobbs I’m just really proud in being able to play a part in introducing the genre to a wider audience. The thing that I like about it more than anything is that it’s popular without having to change its aesthetic; it’s not really changed from when I first started playing it in 2007. Obviously the style has evolved but it’s mostly the same lo-end frequencies that people really respond to.

Twitter: @mistajam

Find an edited version of the article here @ Skiddle

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